Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2010 Clearwater Ironman 70.3 World Championship........No Ordinary Triathlon!

Race Details:

1.9K swim
90K Bike
21.1K Run

As noted above, this is definitely no ordinary triathlon.   Far and away, this was the biggest (in terms of number of competitors) and the overall atmosphere.

I flew down to Tampa Bay (just 30 minutes east of Clearwater) with my whole family on Wednesday, November 10th.   It was nice to get there early and see the whole setup of this race fall into place.   The excitement built each day, as more and more athletes converged on Pier 60, where all the events were taking place.   

On Thursday (the race was Saturday), I attended the athlete's welcome banquet that was held at Sand Key Park.   It was a very nice banquet in which a band was playing and hundreds of tables were setup on the beach.   They brought in all the flags of all the countries represented by the athletes and we all listened to what they had to say about the race.   I sat with a triathlon group out of Waterloo called Studio Energi.   Former pro Jeff Beech is the team coach, and he was also racing in my age group.   Below is the best picture I could get on my crappy BB camera.

I obviously had no expectations to podium or even get close to it really, so my main focus was to just have a fun day and do the best I can in each discipline.   Race morning came early thanks to a few very restful night sleeps in the days prior and due to the fact that the fire alarm in the hotel room started beeping lightly because the battery was low.   That was at 11:30pm, and I think I only got about 3 decent hours sleep after that.   I was up for good at 4am, which was half an hour earlier than I set my alarm for, but I didn't feel too tired.    I was just too excited, so I got up and had a shower and had a banana wrap with peanut butter and some oatmeal.   Shortly after 5am, I was on my way down to the transition zone to get body marked and my bike setup done.   That was all wrapped up by 5:45 or so, and then I did a quick jog back to the hotel to grab my wetsuit and hang out with the family before going back for my 7:25 wave start.

By the time the pro's started at 6:45, the sun had barely even came up.   I bet they hard a hard time seeing in the water for the first bit.   Slowly but surely, the wave starts ticked away, and eventually, I found myself in the pens getting ready for mine.   I was in wave 10 at 7:25.   The Gulf of Mexico was a bit choppy race morning, but not too bad.   An ocean swim is certainly more challenging than many of the lake swims we do here in Southern Ontario, so I don't have much experience with this.    I was in the first of two waves for men 35-39, so I think there were about 100 of us that went off at 7:25am.  

The horn blasted, and the race was on.   I actually felt quite calm and relaxed as the swim began.   I tried to stay out of the mix as much as I could and find some feet to swim behind, but with the waves and cloudy water, it was difficult to see.   Only a couple of hundred meters into the race, I found myself on the inside more or less swimming from buoy to buoy.   Since the faster swimmers were already way ahead, I didn't find it too congested.   I focused on trying to keep everything under control and trying to make good strokes through the water.   Going out to the far buoy was tough, as it was going into the waves.   Once we made the first turn, it was only about a 100 meter swim to the next large buoy where we did another 90 degree turn back to shore.   This was good and bad.   Heading back, we were going with the waves, which was easier to swim in, but we were looking right into the sun, as it was coming up over the beach.   I got back to the beach just over 33 minutes later.   I was hoping to go around 32 minutes or slightly less, so I was slightly disappointed with my time, but given the conditions and the fact that I once again improved over my Muskoka time of 34 minutes, I don't want to complain much about this.   Swimming is the one area where I will continue to work on this winter.

Swim 1.9K
Time 33:18
Pace 1:45/100

The run up to transition was about 100 meters through the sand from the water, where we went through a refreshing sprinkler system to get the salt and sand off of us.   A quick use of one of the wetsuit strippers got my suit off fast and I grabbed my bike bag and was over to the transition tent to get my race number on.   T1 took 3:17, which is a bit long and is another area where free time can be gained by trying to make a conscious effort to get in and out more quickly.

Onto the bike, and where the fun was about to begin.   Only 2K into the bike, we had to go up the biggest (and one of only two) hills on the whole course.   It was the Memorial Causeway bridge.   At the 88K mark, we had to go back over it again.   Other than that, the course was totally flat, and that meant two things....fast speeds and drafting due to the packs.   I think I was in a unique situation, as I was in one of two waves for my age group.   Unfortunately, I'm not a front of the pack swimmer, but I can certainly hold my own on the bike.   I think when I came out of the water, I was coming out with the front of the pack swimmers (and likely top athletes in my age group from the 2nd wave).   That put me in a position to likely be doing some fast riding with some fast guys.

My nutrition plan on the bike was similar to the Muskoka 70.3 race:
- Start off with a normal concentrate (260 calories) of Infinite in my aero drink bottle;
- Carry a double concentrate (520 calories) of Infinite in a bottle on my frame;
- After the aero drink is empty, put the 2x concentrate bottle in my aero drink bottle and pick up 1 water at each aid station to last the rest of the race;
- I also grabbed one gel at each aid station and nibbled on some Powerbar gel blasts to give me that little extra bit of calories.

The first 15K of the bike wasn't too bad for groups.   There seemed to be sufficient space to avoid any drafting calls.   That would soon change though.   I'd say that 25K in, it started getting ridiculous.   At this point, we were only riding in one lane of a two lane highway, so only about 10 feet wide or so.   In addition, we were passing a lot of the slower female riders from earlier waves as well.   All it takes is a few slower riders to be trying to make passes at the same time to get the packs formed.   Likely for the next 50K of the race, I was in and out of these packs.   There were times when I was stuck in the middle of a group of male riders doing 44kph only inches from a guy in front of me, a guy to the right of me, a ditch to the left of me and someone right behind me.   I could not move or go anywhere until something opened up.   Despite good intentions and honestly trying to avoid drafting as much as I could, I ended up getting TWO drafting penalties on the bike.   I can see how I got the first one, as it was at a point where only minutes earlier I was trying to make a break from the pack.  I pushed hard and got out front to only find the riders taking it easy behind me, turn-around and pass me again just a minute later.   As 4 or 5 riders made the pass, I likely didn't drop back fast enough, and that was bad timing, as an official had just pulled up behind me to watch.  That was penalty one.   Penalty two took place on the Bayside bridge, and this is the one I have a problem with.   This was a long causeway bridge that had only a very small incline, and it was closed to traffic.   There were 3 lanes of the highway to use, and somehow I got another one.   As the official pulled up and told me that I had another drafting penalty, I was pissed.   I asked them where, and they said "a quarter mile back".   I was trying to be very careful after the first call and to get a penalty on this part of the course seemed absurd.   We were actually fairly spread out, so I totally had no idea what they were talking about.   I didn't see any point in trying to argue with them, as that wouldn't have got me anywhere.   Unfortunately, after the second penalty, I lost some motivation.   All I could focus on was avoiding another penalty, which would result in a disqualification from the race.  

By this time also, we had to head back north into a bit of a headwind.   There was pretty good separation between everyone now too, so instead of focusing on a hard effort to the finish, I started daydreaming a bit.   In the final 10K of the ride, I started to hear what sounded like a hissing sound coming from my front end.   I thought to myself "great, a flat tire".   I kept looking down to see if any of my tires were getting flat, but nothing seemed to be happening.   This went on 10 or 15 minutes, but eventually stopped, right before climbing the Memorial Causeway bridge for the 2nd time.  I figure it was something like a wrapper stuck on my bike or wheel, as it seemed to just fly off.   The final 2K was really fast as we came down the bridge and flew down a nice flat stretch to T2.    At T2, I hoped off my bike and gave it to a very nice volunteer and proceeded to the "penalty box" to serve my 8 minutes in drafting penalties :(

Bike 90K
Time 2:13:05
Speed 25.25 mph (40.4 kph)
Bike Course Garmin GPS Data

The only good thing about sitting in T2 for 8 extra minutes was the stretching that I was able to do prior to running the half marathon.   Not sure if that really did anything or not, but all I know, is that I wish my T2 time was 2 minutes or less, but instead it was 10:50.....total bummer!!    When I got to the penalty box, they give you a stop watch to wear around your neck so you know when to leave.   At about 5 minutes and change, mine actually stopped accidentally, so I don't know with certainty that I got out of there in exactly 8 minutes.   By the time I noticed it, I think I was pretty close to 8 minutes and I had to argue with the officials in the box to let me go.   Eventually they did, and I was off to grab my T2 bag and head over to the change tent to get ready.   The clean transition zones are a nice feature compared to the other races I've previously done.   The volunteers are great and they take all your stuff so you don't have to worry about it.

The run course in Clearwater was a two loop 10.55K course that went up and over the Memorial causeway bridge (again) and then into a few subdivisions before coming back over the bridge and hammering through a flat 2K stretch back to transition and the turn around to do it again.

My nutrition plan on the run was simple.....use what was available on the course to avoid having to carry my fuel belt.   I really wanted to run a faster half than Muskoka, and not carrying that extra weight around your waist definitely helps.   I did carry my large salt stick dispenser to get a little extra salt on the course.

Starting the run, I felt pretty good and was moving through a lot of people.   Up and over the bridge the first time was no problem either and I think I was doing about a 4:15 pace through the first 3K that included the bridge.   There were lots of aid stations throughout the course.   Likely every 2K or so.   The thing I liked the most were the cold water sponges.   At this time of the day, it was starting to get pretty warm, and there is nothing more refreshing than squeezing out some cold water over your head or down your shirt.   It was even nice to just wipe your face off!

Once I went up and over the bridge for the second time and was heading back to transition for the turnaround, I came across something I had never seen before, but had heard of happening on Slowtwitch.   I was running beside a guy and began to smell something really really bad.   I think you know what I mean.   I looked at the guy's shorts, but there was nothing there.   Then I looked ahead, and about 50 ft in front of both of us was a female running, that obviously could not hold a #2 until a port-o-potty.    It was definitely very gross, as it was running down her legs.   Myself and the guy I was running with rather quickly passed this girl (thank goodness really) and then I looked over at him and said that is the grossest thing I have ever seen while running, and he nodded and agreed with me.   Given how fast she was running, I seriously doubt she was going for a podium spot, so how could you not stop somewhere and do that right?   Unbelievable for sure!

The splits on my second loop started off a little slower, as I was starting to get a bit tired.   I knew I was going to be pretty close to my goal time of doing a 1:30 half marathon.   The climb back over the bridge on the second loop (now third time going over this) was tiring, but I kept turning my feet over and eventually got to the top and back down again.   Just one more time weaving through the subdivisions and the final charge home.   It definitely seemed longer to get through all these streets the second time, but eventually, I came back to the bridge and knew I had just one more climb to go.   This was by far the toughest of the four bridge climbs we had to do.   I even took a few walking steps just to settle the heart rate down.   Nobody passed me while doing this, which was good.   Once I got to the top, I knew it was all down hill from here (almost literally).   I used the final decent to get the pace up, and then I tried holding this through the final 2K flat stretch to the finish line.   As it turns out, the last 5K of the race was the fastest of the whole run, as I knew the end was in sight, and just tried to run as hard as I could.   The crowds were big near the finish, and it was motivating to just push right through to the end.   Reaching the finish line felt great!

Run 21.1K
Time 1:30:35
Pace 6:54/mile (4:18/km)
Run Course Garmin GPS Data

My family was close to the transition zone on the run, so were able to snap a few pictures.

So overall, I was happy with my splits in each discipline.   I officially finished in 313th position overall out of about 1,550 total finishers.   In my age group, I officially finished 78th out of 198.   Had I not had the 8 minutes in penalties on the bike that I had to serve in T2, I would have finished about 40th in my age group.   My AG (35-39) had the most racers in the entire race.

Race stuff.   I also got a tech shirt, sunglasses and a finshers headsweats hat!
Check out the cool finishing video below...

The entire experience was really really cool!   Next year, the 70.3 World Championship race moves out to Lake Las Vegas in Nevada.   The reason for the move is to make the race a lot more difficult, and hopefully minimize the drafting problems that plague this Clearwater site.

Now with winter almost upon us, it is time to re energize for next year.   My next big events are the Boston marathon in April 2011 and Ironman Austria in July 2011.   It's going to be another exciting year for sure!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Clearwater Race Report....coming soon!

With trying to catch up on work, and the never ending things to do on the weekend, I can't seem to get this Clearwater race report finished.   I've got it 30% done, so I hope to find some free time this week (maybe even at lunch at work) :) and get this wrapped up on on the blog.

In summary though, it was an amazing experience, despite some of the problems I had on the bike with those darn officials!

Check back soon!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Disc Wheel Graphic

As I previously mentioned, I picked up a used Renn 575 disc wheel pretty cheap.   Because of that, I thought I'd jazz up the rather boring all black disc with some graphics to match my bike.   Here's the final product.   It should be on the road heading to Clearwater early next week.    Rather than trucking it around through airports, I am planning on using a bike transport service.   Really, I had no option, as my whole family is going down there, so I'm pretty sure the four of us, luggage and a bike box wouldn't fit in anything other than a Suburban....or a pick-up truck!

Monday, November 1, 2010

2 weeks till Clearwater

I must say that it has been a lot harder to get the rides in this fall, compared to last.  Last October I think I had 12 or 13 rides to work, plus about 4 or 5 in November.   With the cold temperatures and strong winds, I've elected to sit on my trainer more than ride outside.   That's not such a bad thing when I look back on it though.   A 90 minute session on the trainer is like a 2 hour ride outside.   This past weekend, I did a Spinerval session in my garage.   I think it was #14 or something.   A 90 minute time trial interval session.   I was dripping with sweat in the end, but it felt great.   No fan, just the cooler outdoor temps to keep me from being a total soggy mess.

I've had some very nice runs leading up to my Clearwater race as well.   Last weekend, I did an official half marathon run (21.1K) in heavy trainers (Saucony Triumph 6's), my Nathan Speed belt, and on a somewhat hilly and windy course in 1:28:04.   As that turns out, that is the fastest half marathon time I have ever done (even in a race).   I'm sure I am at a point now where I could go sub 1:25 with the right race week preparation and shoes.   So my Clearwater half marathon time of 1:30 seems to be realistic.   I hear it is hot there now, so it would be good if the temps cooled down a bit.
I also just picked up a disc wheel for my bike.   It is a Renn 575, that was quite affordable.   Because of that, I elected to get some custom graphics for it.   It's getting done now and should be finished tomorrow.    Here is a sneak peak of the design.   When it's finished, I'll get a pic up with it on my bike.

The swimming is coming along well too.   I'm happy with some of my times in workouts, so I really hope that can translate into a good time in the race.   I'm going to throw it out there and say I want to do about 31-32 minutes for the 1.9K in Clearwater.   This will really depend on the conditions in the race and if I can find some nice quick feet.  

Only a few more "quick" workouts before I start to wind it down.  We (the whole family) will be flying out of Buffalo next Wednesday.   I'm excited, and can't wait to get there.   It's starting to get awfully cold up here in Canada!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Clearwater Training Update

Well, it is definitely not summer anymore.   I can tell this by how many layers I need to put on in the morning to bike to work.   Seriously, booties, pants, multiple shirts, arm warmers, ear warmers, gloves....it takes a good 5 extra minutes nowadays just to get out the door.  

A week ago, I had to travel to Guernsey in the English Channel for a week for work, so that was a full week with no biking.   The good thing was that they at least had a 17 meter pool in the hotel, and lot's of hills to run on outside.   I think I did a total of 4 swims (about 2K total each time) and 4 runs ranging from 8K to 14K.   The 14K run was pretty cool.   I ran to the top of a large hill that snaked it's way down to the coast.    The elevation at the top of the hill was about 95m and at the bottom it was about 8m.   I did 2 hill repeats of this, which were pretty tough.   The only other hill as steep as this I have ever run up before is in Bermuda (Southampton Princess Hotel hill).

Once back from Guernsey, I continued on with my riding to work and back (59K round trip).   On average, I have been doing this 3x week.   In addition, I have been doing my Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning swim training in New Hamburg.   For anyone swimming on their own and in need of swim workouts, definitely check out  www.swimplan.com.   This used to be a free site, but they have recently upgraded it, and made it better.   Now they are asking you to pay $9.95 per year for pretty much unlimited swim plans.   I use this all the time and love having to not come up with workout to do.   I can get a new workout every day.   Most of their workouts focus on shorter interval sets (50s, 100s or 200s), but they do throw in longer core workouts once an a while.   I often just do some time trials at least once a month to see where I am at endurance wise.

This past weekend, I did my longest bike ride since the Muskoka 70.3 race.   I rode 94K.   Around 45K into a headwind where I could barely average 30kph and then with a tailwind, where I rode between 45-50kph.   The next day, I did a 20.5K run with my son Holden, who biked while I ran. 

I'm also trying to stick with my mid week running where I would do a tempo type of run Tuesday and an interval set Thursday.   This weekend, I'm planning on doing a 25K run, which will be my last long run prior to Clearwater on November 13.   I've definitely been focusing more on my running since the Muskoka race, as that is where I felt like I performed the worst.   The bike is dead flat in Clearwater, so I'm not too worried about it.   I really want to have a strong run off the bike, so that is what I have been focusing on.   If I could only run as strong as Macca off the bike, I'd be in business!!!    Wow, what a great race in Kona this past weekend.   I'm pumped to get to Clearwater to be part of that World Championship atmosphere!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lakeside Sprint Triathlon - September 18 2010

Race Details:
750m swim
20K Bike (actually only 17K)
5K Run

This race wasn't terribly important to me, especially coming off the Muskoka 70.3 the weekend before, but it is the closest triathlon to my house, so I consider it my "home" race.   Normally, if an event has multiple days of racing, I will always take on the longer race, but in this case, the KOS races were on Saturday, so I decided to do the sprint, rather than the Olympic on Sunday so that my oldest son Holden could race too on the same day.

It was a nice 9:30am start time, so I didn't leave my place until 8am, which is a pleasant change.   We arrived at the race site a little past 8:30, which is a little late for my liking, but better on the family, as it meant a little less standing around.   By the time I got all my stuff picked up and into transition, my age group spot was very full.   I decided to take a much better and less crowded spot closer to the bike exit.   It was a great decision.   I really have no idea why they jam all the athletes into certain bike racks when others remain almost empty.   I almost always check that out before a race.   Closest to the bike exit is by far the best spot for your bike.   You get more time to take your wetsuit off while running and less time running with your bike.   It seems like at Lakeside, they always are wanting to place my age group (most of the time, the biggest in any race), right by the swim entrance which is terrible, as you hardly have any time to get the wetsuit off by the time you come out of the water.   Anyway, my new spot was sweet, end of story!

I did a quick run warm-up, got my wetsuit on and headed over to the lake for a swim warm-up.   The water was colder than normal at Lakeside, but still very comfortable in the wetsuit.   I found the water very hard to see in though, which isn't normally the case out there.

I was in the first wave, and before I knew it, we were off.   I tried to go out pretty fast for the first couple hundred meters, but I still found myself in a bit of a pack.   There was a little contact, but nothing too much.   Unfortunately going to the first buoy, I found myself going too far to the left, and almost a bit off track.   It was a very sharp left turn at the buoy, so my line to that one was not good.   I should have stayed more right.   Going into the second part of the swim course, I tried to find some feet to follow, and did so for a bit, but it didn't take long to lose those.   A good draft wasn't going to happen in this race today for some reason.   Going around the 2nd buoy, I tried to focus on just taking a good line back to the beach.   About 75 meters from the beach or so, the water got really shallow.   It was tough to get through this, as it wasn't really deep enough to swim, and trying to run through it wasn't easy either.   I did a few dolphin dives to get closer, but eventually had to just walk/jog the rest of the way out.   A quick look at my watch while I was on my way out showed around 12:45 or so.   Not bad, but not great.   Total swim time to the mat was 13:02, good for 21st overall at a 1:45 pace. 

Once in transition, I started getting my wetsuit off, and by the time I got to my bike, all I had to do was get it off my feet.   Sometimes this goes well, but today it didn't.   I had trouble getting it off of my right leg, and with the dizziness from the swim, I was having a lot of trouble.   Eventually, I got it, but it cost me about 20 seconds in transition.

Onto the bike, I was ready to hit it with all I got.  The legs were still a bit heavy from Muskoka, but not too bad.   I was steadily passing people and at about the 7.5K mark, I saw the leader, Derek Quick coming back.   I was shocked.   There is no way he could be a full 5K ahead of me, as I thought the turn-around was going to be at 10K (for the 20K sprint bike).   I was blown away, but as I looked ahead, I could see the turn around not that far up the road.   I immediately knew this course was going to be really short.   Sure enough, I hit the turn around point at about 8.5K.   The sign said 10K, but my Garmin said 8.5....way off!   At the turn around, I had moved into 4th place.   About 500 meters or so after the turn, I moved into 3rd and could see 2nd not too far up the road.   I tried and tried, but he kept his distance from me, and I was likely about 30 seconds back going into T2.   Overall, I had the fastest bike split in the race at about 37.6 kph.   I did the modified 17.5K course in 27:57.   The only person to go under 28 minutes.

I had a good T2, but not good enough to make up for all the time lost in T1.   Once we got out onto the road, I was likely about 150 meters behind 2nd place.   I felt like I made up a bit of ground in the first 2.5K to the turn-around and honestly thought I might be able to catch the guy in 2nd place.   Unfortunately, after the turn around, he decided to turn it on.   He definitely had a better final 2.5K than me, as I think he increased his lead by 10 or 15 seconds in that last half, despite the fact that I felt the last few K went really well.   I definitely felt like I could have kept going on a bit longer.   I did the 5K (which I also think might have been a bit long) in 20:45, good for 3rd overall on the run.

I finished the race 3rd overall in a total time of 1:03:19, only 32 seconds behind 2nd place.   Had I not messed up T1 and if the bike was the full 20K...you never know, I might have ended up in 2nd overall.   3rd overall is the best finish I have ever had in a triathlon, and the first time I have ever won my age group.   Not a bad day I guess!
Overall Race Awards
Men and Women 35 - 39 Age Group Award

As I said earlier, the KOS races were also taking place in the afternoon.   My oldest son Holden was competing in the kids 6-7 age group.   This was his 3rd triathlon.   He did the same race here in Lakeside last summer, and also did the TriGator race in Elmira in June of this year.   I must say, he might have a future in this sport.   In June, he won his age group at the Tri Gator by over a minute over 2nd place..


And he had another good showing in this race.   He had a few slip-ups in both T1 and T2, but still managed to pull out the victory once again, giving him a 2 for 2 record in 2010.   Pretty good, given he is still only 6 years old too!!


Monday, September 13, 2010

2010 Muskoka 70.3 Race Report

First of all, let's get one thing straight.  This race should be called the Muskoka 72.8, since the bike course is actually 94K instead of the usual 90.   As a result, you certainly get your money's worth doing this race.

So essentially, my whole summer was geared up towards doing this race.   I had several shorter tri's and a few longer distance ones, which all worked well as training for this race.

So let's get into it shall we?   

The days leading up to this event were a bit nerving, as a lot of people (myself included) spent a fair bit of time watching the weather reports.   The weather trend was very cool mornings and they were calling for light rain most of the day.   Rain on this bike course can be treacherous, due to the tight turns and hilly course.   In 2008 when I did this event, it rained most of the day, but at least it was warm.    10 or 11 degrees and rain was not going to be fun.   

In previous years, I went up with my family on Friday and attended the athlete banquet which was always very good.   A great way to carbo load for the race.  This year, the family stayed at home (hockey try-outs and questionable weather) and I came up with another athlete I know from New Dundee, Greg Hallman (who by the way did awesome in his first ever half iron distance event - congrats Greg!!).   I picked Greg up at home at 6am, and we made great time getting to Muskoka just before 10am with a couple of quick coffee and restroom stops.

We were staying at Hidden Valley, which is nice and close to Dearhurst, and it allows us to keep our vehicle with us (as opposed to the airport parking for Dearhurst guests).   Upon arriving, we checked in (YES!! our room was ready at 10am!), so we put our bags into the room and then proceeded to walk our bikes to the bike check-in at Dearhurst parking lot.   From there, it was onto registration, a tour of the race expo, a quick walk around the swim start and exit, and then we headed to the Power Bar Pro Panel question and answer session that they put on.   Like last year, many of the top pro's were there to answer questions, including 2x Kona champ Craig Alexander and last years Kona runner up, Mirinda Carfrae (also both winners of this race last year).   Here's a shot of Craig and Mirinda from my less than stellar Blackberry camera

I asked a question to either Craig or Mirinda to see if either of them ever ran any pure "marathon" running races as part of their training program.   Craig answered by saying that it's "too much work".   This coming from a guy who can run a 2:45 marathon in Kona and a 1:12 half in Muskoka.

After that, Greg and I headed back to Hidden Valley to chill out a bit before heading into town for dinner.   East Side Mario's has always been my restaurant of choice for out of town races.   I always go there when doing a tri in Huntsville and I ate there the night before my 3:01 Ottawa marathon in May, so I didn't want to break tradition now.   Besides, the all you can eat salad and bread sits well with me!

5:20am Sunday morning, alarm goes off, and I am happy to have woken up after a pretty solid night's sleep.   I quickly ate some oatmeal and a whole wheat wrap with peanut butter and a banana rolled up inside.   After a bit of coffee, my 7 systems supplements and some packing up, we were out of HV by 6:15 and walking in the dark over to Deerhurst.  Saturday was a great day weather wise, and likely everyone wished we had that weather for Sunday.   As it turns out, most of the rain passed by overnight, and we were greeted race morning with overcast skies and what seemed like a comfortable 13 or 14 degrees.   It didn't really feel cold at all.   It was almost "ideal" racing conditions...almost!

We arrive in transition and I quickly got to work taking all of the wet bags off my bike and then getting everything set up.   After an easy run, to get warmed up, I started putting on my wetsuit for the long walk to the swim start.   Once there, I did a good warm-up, and was ready for this race to get started.   I felt calm and comfortable, and before we knew it, the Canadian national anthem ended, and the pro's were off and running (actually swimming....you know what I mean!).  I was in wave 2, which was a good thing, as that would mean little traffic to negotiate in the middle parts of the swim.   4 minutes later, and the horn went off, and it was game on!    

1.9K Swim

I don't know if it was me, or what, but I thought the swim course was slightly different than the prior two years.   The course is normally a perfect rectangle, but this year, it seemed like we had to take a bit of a left hand turn at the first buoy, right beside a bunch of boats.   This made for a bit of congestion in the swim, likely the most I have ever experienced in this race.   I got a bit knocked around, hit, pushed and slapped, but nothing I haven't experienced before.   I tried to just find some open space, and after a few minutes I was pretty much OK and swimming free and clear.   After the right turn at the 2nd buoy, I was more or less trying to just hold a nice steady pace and try to find some feet to draft off of as much as I could.   I did a bit of drafting here and there, but likely swam most of the race on my own.   Nothing else was too memorable about this part, and 34 minutes later, I exited the water.   Ideally, I was hoping to go 33 minutes in the swim, but 34 was definitely alright, and a 4 minute improvement over last year.    After the swim exit, I took advantage of the wetsuit strippers which is definitely a good idea, and also decided to slip on a pair of runners for the 300m UPHILL run to the transition zone.   Once in T1, I quickly got my helmet and clear sunglasses on and was off on the bike.   It was warm enough that gloves and arm warmers or an extra shirt was not required (for me at least).

94K Bike

With the 1.9K swim and 300m uphill run to transition, my heart rate was high right off the bat.   The first 20K of the bike course is definitely not easy.   A lot of steep rolling hills to keep that heart rate pumping.  At this stage, I was passing a lot of people from my wave, as I was only 28th in my AG on the swim.   This was motivating, and kept me pushing hard.   Once we got on the main roads of Hwy 35, it was time to push the pace.   The roads were freshly paved, overcast, no wind and cool.   Perfect biking weather.   I was making good time here and the average speed kept going up.

My nutrition plan on the bike was as follows:

- Start off with a normal concentrate (260 calories) of Infinite in my aero drink bottle;
- Carry a double concentrate (520 calories) of Infinite in a bottle on my frame;
- After the aero drink is empty, put the 2x concentrate bottle in my aero drink bottle and pick up 1 water at each aid station to last the rest of the race;
- I also grabbed one gel at each aid station to give me that little extra bit of calories;

This plan worked well and I had no issues with it at all.

The middle 35 or 40K of the bike course went by really fast.   I found myself going back and forth with two other athletes, which kept things interesting.   After the 2nd aid station down in Baysville, things started to get tougher.   Firstly, it started to rain.   Not too heavy, but enough to get the roads wet and slippery in the most difficult and technical part of the course.   At this point, I found myself all alone.   A few of the guys I was riding with got ahead of me and joined up with another small pack.   For 20 or 25K, I struggled to catch back up with them, as I really wanted to be with a group, rather than all by myself.   I'd say with 15K to go, I got passed by Chris Van Kooten who started in a wave (or two or three) behind me.   For some reason after he passed me, it helped pull me along (no drafting of course) and we caught up to the pack of guys I was trying to catch for the last half hour.   Chris carried on, and left us all, but I was now back with the group of other riders, which really helped.   To my surprise, one of the riders in this pack was Jeff Beech, a former pro triathlete from Waterloo, where I am from (more or less anyway).   That was super motivating, as he is in my AG.   If you would have said I would be going into T2 with Jeff Beech at the beginning of the race, I would have said you were crazy.   That being said, we all rode together for the final 5K of the ride and as we approached T2, I had a nice smooth dismount, and I actually beat him over the dismount line, and was likely in about 3rd place in my AG at this point, making up 25 spots over the 94K bike.

Into T2 though however, that would be the last I would see of Jeff.  He is an awesome runner, and with his quick transition, he was gone.   I took some extra time to put my Garmin watch on to track my pace, socks on my feet to avoid any blisters and then grab my Nathan Speed belt, for extra nutrition for the run.   I think this added 15 or 20 seconds over Jeff's time, so by the time I got out to the road, he was already 100m ahead and gaining ground quickly!

21.1K Run

So although I didn't really know it at this point, I think I was in 4th place in my AG starting the run, as Jeff Beech took over 3rd in T2 and eventually would end up in 2nd.   Right off the bat at the 1K marker, we had to climb a pretty decent hill on the run.   I could totally feel my quads starting to tighten up, which made me nervous.   I don't think it was nutrition, but purely the effort put out on the bike.   I quickly took another salt pill, and hoped all would get better once we hit some of the "flatter" sections on Hwy 60.   Once there, things seemed to get better and I was ticking along at a nice pace.   I got passed by only a few runners, and I past a few, so things were staying pretty even.  Starting at about the 8K mark, things got tough on the run.   We had a few good climbs to get to 9K and this really took a lot out of me.   On the bigger climb, I did a few short walking breaks of only a few seconds, but it did seem to help.   I never really lost any ground on the athlete that was in front of me who just kept running.   The turn-around point was at about 10.5K and after that, it was supposed to be a lot easier, as it was mostly downhill from there.   As it turns out, I progressively felt worse as the run went on.   The downhills were pounding the legs, and every type of incline was making me more and more fatigued.    I figured after seeing some of the athletes coming back from the turn-around, I had a decent chance of getting on the podium if I can just keep the legs moving, so I was definitely motivated.

I was keeping the nutrition up by taking in a gel every 5K or so.  In addition, I was taking in salt every 20-25 minutes.   I never really had much more cramping like I did in the first K, just a lot of fatigue.   The last 6K were quite tough, and I just had to keep telling myself to keep moving, as you've been doing so well up to this point.   I got passed by another athlete at 17K, but that would be it for the rest of the race.   Once we got back to the top of the hill on Canal road, it was a nice downhill to the 20K marker.   The last K of the race has a pretty tough climb back to Dearhurst, but this is where the crowds were.   Half-way up the hill, I just wanted to take a few quick walking steps to feel better, but the crowd wouldn't have it.   They yelled for me to dig deep and fire up those quads as there was a runner about 30 meters behind me.  This definitely got me going.  Funny enough though, as I passed, I heard them yelling to that guy to dig in and go after me.   They just wanted to see a battle, but I wasn't about to give them one.   Since I had no idea if the guy behind me was in AG or not, I just had to give it all I had for the final 600 meters.   So going as deep as I could, I rounded the transition zone and sprinted (all relative at this point) to the finish line to finish the run and the race with a new half iron PB of 4:56:26.

Shortly after finishing, it started to rain, and I immediately felt cold, so I grabbed my finishing shirt, hat, medal and about 5 cups of my favorite chocolate Powerbar Protein drink and headed inside for a much deserved massage.

After the wonderful massage and stretching, I grabbed some food and checked the first wave of results.   YES!!!, I finished 4th in my AG which got me on the podium and a guaranteed spot for Clearwater, which was my main goal.  Here are the final results for the day

Although I was one of the finalists in the 7 Systems improve more contest, I would have had to do 4:40 in this race to improve upon my previous years time of 5:01.   I knew all along that was not really an option, so my real goal was to podium and take a spot for the Foster Grant 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater, Florida in November.   Mission Accomplished!!   Sweet!

After wandering around and talking to some friends and watching some other athletes finish, I finally ran into Greg, who had just finished up some food himself.   We both got cleaned up and showered, just as they were starting to give away the Clearwater spots for those that automatically qualified (like ME!).   So I filled out the paperwork and got them the $325 USD (yah, steep I know!).   After that, they did the awards and we then took off.   It was almost 5pm by this time, and we had about a 4 hour drive to get home.

Special thanks goes out to my family of course.   Deanna who does an awesome job of looking after the kids when I'm out training or racing.   There is absolutely no way I'd be able to do what I do without her great support!

Thanks to all the guys that I swam with over the winter at WLU.   Kraemer, Keast, Hamilton et all.   You guys definitely made me a better swimmer by pushing me harder than I'd ever gone before.   Almost all of my 5 minute PB improvement was in the swim, and those 5 months at Laurier are a big part of that.  I look forward to another good winter with you guys, as I get ready for Ironman Austria next July.

Thanks to Zach and the team at Ironheart Fitness for the hard rides this past winter on the Computrainers.   That set me up well for a great season of training and racing on the bike.   I was only 38 seconds off of having the #1 bike split in my AG!


Finally, thanks to Martin, Jasper and the crew at 7 Systems for hooking me up with their awesome 7 Systems product.   Since using 7 systems, I haven't missed a podium spot yet in any race, and I've had some real good training (and recovery) days.  I've stayed healthy and strong ever since I started taking 7 Systems.

So although Muskoka is done, I'm not.   I race this Saturday in the Lakeside Sprint where my oldest son Holden is also doing the 6-7 KOS race.    He's got a good shot at taking home that title, as he did a race in June and won by over a minute! 

Till next time.

Train on...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

State of TT bikes

Can you imagine what people would have thought if they saw a bike like this back in the 1980's?   Probably the same thing we think of when we see bikes from the 1980's.....WTF??

Very cool bike!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 2010 - 7 Systems Endurance Supplements Update

Only two more weeks to the 2010 Muskoka 70.3, my goal race for the 7 Systems contest I am in.   I think I am on track and haven't had any downtime in my training....thanks to using 7 Systems Endurance supplements :)

My only race in August was the Toronto Island Sprint Triathlon, which you can read about in my blog.   I'd say it was a success, despite having a poor swim in my opinion.

In the 3 other weekends available for training this month, I did the following:

August 8th - Biked 114K to a family cottage in Bayfield and followed that up with a 10K run.   The ride was almost entirely into a headwind or crosswind, so that was tough.   In addition, it was super humid and I got rained upon twice.  The 10K run was not fast!

August 22nd - Biked an 83K loop around New Hamburg and followed that up with two loops of 8K around town for a total of 16K worth of running.   Again, VERY humid day.   I took all the hydration I could on the ride (72oz of Infinite), and consumed another 48 oz running as I filled up both my Nathan Speed Belt 2 bottles after the first loop.   When it was all said and done, I lost 6 lbs all while consuming 120 oz of fluid.   Glad I wasn't doing an Ironman, as I'm sure I would have bonked at some point!   I just find it hard to drink much more than I did!

August 28th/29th - I had planned on another long ride/run on Sunday, but after getting a quick training email from Jasper Blake (a bit of a benefit from being in this contest), I decided to mix it up this weekend.   So on the Saturday, I thought I'd see how quick I could just run 15K.   So, in the middle of the day in hot and humid weather again, I did a 15K run in 1:01:45.  This was a pretty hilly run in windy conditions, so I was pleased with the effort.   Garmin data below on this one.


On the Sunday, I decided to do the long(ish) ride but only follow that up with a short 5K run.   The ride was 72K and the run 5K, which I did at a decent enough pace of 4:10/km.....did I mention how humid it was again!!

In addition to the weekend stuff, I've still be getting to the New Hamburg pool 3x week, biking to work (58K round trip) 3x week and doing my Tuesday tempo run (~6K - 9K), and Thursday Intervals (usually 5 x 800m w 200m recovery).   If it works out, I'll hit the gym for some weights/stretching/hot tub once or twice too!

This routine is similar to last year's effort where I did 5:01 at the 2009 Muskoka 70.3, but this year, I've definitely stepped the swimming up a bit more and have done more mid week running.   I actually have a spreadsheet that has tracked every run I've done since 2004.   I'd share it with you, but it's huge!   Here are some highlights of it though.

Even from 2009 to 2010, I've made some good improvements.   Due to more speed work, my average run speed has dropped 5 seconds per K.   This includes all the long runs training for the Around the Bay 30K and Ottawa Marathon this year.   In addition, I am on pace for about 150 runs in 2010, which is 20 more than last year.   Each year I am seeing improvements in training and racing (both running and triathlon) so this in encouraging.   At 37, I have to wonder how much more improvements are left.

I hope the final two weeks prior to Muskoka go well and that I can have a good race once again.   Beating Andrina's performance of a 9% improvement in her goal race for the 7 Systems contest is going to be next to impossible, but hey, I'll do my best, and I hope to have fun doing it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Toronto Island Triathlon - August 15 2010

Race Details:
750m swim
30K Bike
7.5K Run

The day started off very early, as I decided to drive down to Toronto from New Hamburg, rather than pay $150 for a hotel room.   So after the alarm went off at 4:45am, I quickly grabbed a bite to eat, took my 7Systems supplements and hopped in the truck for the trip down the 401 to Toronto.   At 6am on a Sunday morning, the traffic was light, and I made it down to the ferry terminal by 6:45...plenty of time to catch the 7am ferry over to Centre Island.    

Once over on the island, it was a good 3/4 km walk/ride over to the transition zone.   By this time, I had to go to the bathroom pretty bad, so I quickly put my bike and bag in transition and took my place in line for the port-o-potties.    From there, it was over to get my chip, body marking and tee-shirt (note to self - you are not a medium, so get a large shirt next time!   Deanna will be using this race shirt, not me).   After getting all my stuff, it was time to get organized in transition and get on the bike for a quick ride.   I rode the first 2-3K of the bike course to get a feel for what the roads would be like, as this is not your typical bike course.   It was a 3 loop 10K course on closed, but relatively narrow roads with ALOT of other riders and pedestrians.   Once back from the bike, I did a quick run.   I normally run a bit longer, but this morning is was ridiculously humid out, so just moving around was causing me to sweat!   Back from the run, it was pretty much time to head down to the lake to listen to the race briefing and get a bit of a warm-up swim in.    Back to that humidity....As most triathletes will know, getting a wetsuit on can be difficult at times.   Throw in a sweaty body and 95% humidity, it makes it almost impossible (at least it was to me).   I got my legs in, but couldn't get much else on, so I headed down to the lake to get the rest of it on in the water.   I must say, this was the hardest experience I have ever had getting into a wetsuit.   Eventually it went on, and I did a bit of warming up until our wave started.

Lake Ontario was pretty choppy race morning, which isn't something I'm used to.  At 8:24am, our wave went off, and things started off ok (for a while).   I quickly found myself getting unusually tired, due to the waves.   I'd go to take a stroke and there would be no water, or try to breathe, and get a wave right in my face.   It also made sighting the buoys a lot harder.   I found myself having to stop, look around and regroup a few times, something I haven't really had to do this year yet.   By the time I got to shore, my watch had said about 12:45.  So despite what I felt was a "horrible" swim, I was really only about 20 seconds longer than some of my more recent 750m time trials in the pool, where I was averaging about 1:40-1:43/100.   In this race, I just couldn't find anyone to draft off of, which makes a big difference.   So despite not liking to see my average time of 1:55/100 for the swim, it really wasn't too bad.  The long run to transition is what makes the average time not what I'm used to seeing.   Despite this, I still need to make improvements in this discipline.   Overall, 35th out of 424 in the swim.

After the 300m or so run back to transition, it was onto the bike.   As I mentioned, this is a 3 loop 10K course.   The first lap went well, and I likely had about a 38kph average going, and I was flying past everyone.   Onto the 2nd lap, there were more riders out on the course.   The road for the most part had about 3 meter lanes (on each side), but there were sections that were narrower.   My average speed just kept going up each lap, as it was motivating to be passing so many people, and passing them so quickly.   I'd say that the average speed of most riders was around 30kph or less, and I was easily doing 40kph in the straight-aways.  Despite the congested course, I never really had any 'incidents' on the bike (except for missing one large pylon by a few inches).   The bike course was pretty sheltered from any wind, so that also helped get the speeds up.   On the far end of the course, the turn-around is like a cul-de-sac, so you could keep the speed up while turning around.   The turn-around by transition was a complete 180 turn, so it forced everyone to slow right down.   Take that away, and the speeds would have been even faster!!  By the time it was done, I think the bike course was slightly short (say 29.5K instead of 30K), as my garmin had me at about 39.5kph, but the race results showed me in 4th overall with an average speed of 40.4kph.   Anyway you look at it, it was a good ride!

After getting off the bike, I was completely soaked with sweat.   I don't think I have ever been that sweaty after a bike ride in my life.   Luckily, the sun still hadn't come out, but it was crazy humid.   It was like I just walked out of the lake!   A relatively quick transition and it was out onto the run course.   This was a two loop 3.75K course.   It had a little bit of everything, including running on grass, pavement and sand.   I was feeling pretty good, despite the humidity, and was averaging a little over 4 minute K's.   I can't really think of anything too memorable about the run course, other than the fact that I didn't like completing the first lap, and having to do the whole thing over again.    I missed a few kilometer markers for checking my laps, but I do think I held a pretty consistent pace throughout, and when the finish line finally arrived, I was happy to see it.

Checking the results afterwards, I was surprised to see how fast so many other people were at this race...and a lot faster.   I was disappointed to see my average for the run at 4:13/km.   I knew I ran faster than that and confirmed it using the gmaps pedometer, since I wasn't using my garmin for this race.   I think the run course was definitely long at about 7.8K, rather than 7.5K, which would still keep me at a little over 4 minute kms.   This link is somebody else's Garmin data for the same run course, and it shows 7.8K.


In the end, I finished 14th overall in the run, 8th overall in the race out of 424, and 3rd in my AG as 1st and 2nd overall in the race were also in my AG :(

Patryk Biegalski, in my AG photo above, was the overall race winner in a time of 1:29:33 (2:25 faster than me), so I ran some numbers compared to him.   He put 1:36 into me on the swim and only 49 seconds from T1 to the end of the race.   So clearly, if I could have stayed close to him in the water, it would have been a pretty interesting finish.   I certainly think if I had him in my sights on the run, I might have been able to push a little bit harder.   Always something to work on I guess!